From Eunomia To Eusophia: Planning a better future for the human world

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The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired much wide and deep thought about the human condition. A global phenomenon, like climate change, it has challenged deep-structural aspects of the organisation of the world.  

It has challenged nationalism in requiring a cross-national response, at the level of policy and in complex practical measures. It has challenged established relationships between society and government because it has required unprecedented levels of state action and expenditure. It has challenged economic structures, national and global, in its disastrous effects on production, the provision of services and employment. It has challenged the routine tolerance of gross social and economic inequality and injustice across the world.  

It has challenged intergovernmental organisations, many of them not well adapted to deal with such an overwhelming crisis. It has challenged the efficacy of the European Union as a progressive but hazardous harmonising of national interest and common interest, an intermediate cosmopolis. It has allowed the overriding of fundamental rights and freedoms in ways reminiscent of war-time.

Above all, it has challenged human consciousness, at the level of individual human beings and at the social level, calling into question assumptions about stability and security, progress and the ambiguous hegemony of natural science and technology. It has generated a sense of the beginning of a new world, reminiscent of the period following the end of the Roman Empire in the late-fifth century and the period following European intrusion into the American continent in 1492, which revealed the existence of well-established civilisations and societies in what was immediately seen as a New World.

It is a remarkable and heartening fact that, over recent decades, writers on international law, especially younger writers, had already begun to think creatively and laterally about the problematic nature of traditional international law and its failure to establish an adequate version of the Rule of Law in international society.

International evils of every kind continue unabated, including war and crimes against humanity, gross and persistent violations of human rights and, the most delicate problem, the co-existence of social systems that are grossly unequal in their human content, even if international law decrees them to be sovereign and equal, whatever the degree of oppression and exploitation of their citizens.  

The international scene continues to be dominated by governments, and by globally powerful economic actors under the protection of governments, while the citizens of the world can only watch the games played by the holders of ultimate power, knowing that there is very little they can do to civilise them, let alone to humanise them.

In my own work I have suggested a four-step process to get from here to there, to a better human world.

The first step is to re-imagine international law as the law of international society, that is to say, the law of the society of all human societies and all human beings. That was the purpose of my book called Eunomia, New Order for a New World. The second step is to diagnose critically the current state of the human world and the current state of international law and international organisation. That was the purpose of my book called The Health of Nations. Society and Law beyond the State.  

The third step is to review the inherited work of the human mind, over the course of almost three thousand years, on human society and the good life.   That was the purpose of my book called Eutopia. New Law and New Philosophy for a Troubled World. The fourth step is to show what a new human world might look like and how, in reasonably realistic ways, we might set about achieving it. That is the purpose of my novel, admittedly a work of pure fiction, called Eusophia. A New Future for Humanity. Human history is a history of the exploitation of the many by the few.  That need not be the story of the human future.

Needless to say, I do not expect that other creative thinkers about the awful problems of the human world will necessarily follow the same route. My purpose, at the end of the intellectually productive part of my own life, is to help younger writers to have the courage to think big and think daringly about international law generally and about the particular areas of international law which are their speciality. The pandemic has made such work not only topical but also more vital than ever.

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